tv Piers Morgan Tonight CNN April 8, 2012 12:00am-1:00am PDT
>> that's it for tonight's show. i'm drew griffin. >> and i'm randi kaye. thanks for joining us. tonight, my exclusive with the most dangerous man in come si, ricky gervais. the one thing that matters more to anymore than anything. >> there's nothing i cherish more than my friends. but for that, i'm allowed to squeeze their heads, annoy them 24-7, send them around the world. and one of the funniest men in show business, steve carell and the price of fame. >> it's much, much better to be rich. to the three stooges? >> i was thinking ron paul is sort of a shemp.
>> this is "piers morgan tonight." ricky gervais is here. he has offended pretty much every big star in hollywood at the golden globes last year. by coincidence, he's back again after offending just about every major star at the golden globes. welcome back. >> they took you back? the first time they said, why did he say all these awful things? the second time they were oh, we get it, they're jokes. >> did you want them to take it badly? >> no. and i don't think i said anything that bad the first time. they are jokes. i would entertain than people gasp. i cherish the gasps. they're just as good. >> not everybody seemed to enjoy your jokes as much as others.
sir elton didn't seem enthusiastic. >> he had a grumpy look on his face, i don't know. at least he can still show expressions. most have too much botox and you can't tell whether they're smiling or not. but i made the decision, you don't pander to people in the room, there's 200 million people watching at home. you want everybody to enjoy it, but it's not a spectator sport and i tried to make it one. i really enjoyed it. >> i tweeted on the night how joyous you would have felt the moment you would have heard that jodie foster and mel gibson were making a movie "the beaver." >> too easy. >> i think you are single
handedly changing the way all americans feel about awards ceremonies. they were the most sickening back slapping events imaginable. four or five hours of people telling each other how wonderful they are. you have tricked that balloon so spectacularly. i don't think any of them can go back to that anymore. that's why you're this national treasure. >> i think that it's fine if they want a mutual back slapping session. but don't televise it. because there's nothing in it for people at home. i've got nothing against those people. i admire a lot of them, and also it was -- this wasn't me going out there trying to undermine the moral fabric of america. they were gags. and it shows how badly the so-called stars took it. it's always people offended on someone else's behalf. you talk to the person and they go, i was fine about it.
>> do you have a moral code yourself? >> of course i do. >> how would you define it? >> you can't, because it's not a set menu. unlike religion, i don't have a set menu. >> what is your litmus test? >> you can't. i have to sleep at night. that's the only way. this is the thing about offense, it's not right or wrong, it's about feelings and feelings are personal. so i'll give you an example. i did a standup tour here and i make jokes, ironically i say, about third world famine, cancer, the holocaust, aids. and this is the problem with dealing with tabu. some people, when they hear any tabu subject, they mistake the target with the subject of the joke. the reason i don't like actual
racist jokes is not because they're offensive, because they're not funny because they're based on a falsehood. there has to be truth and honesty in comedy. i did this gig with all those subjects and i got a letter from someone saying i enjoyed the gig, we were laughing all the way through except we didn't appreciate the jokes about the holocaust. so they knew the jokes were a joke, but it was too much that's the problem with personal feelings. >> but are there -- >> you can't be objective. >> some people would say things like the holocaust should be off-limits. >> it depends on what the joke is. it's as simple as that. you can tell a right-on joke about the holocaust and about anything. i like walking that tight rope
and i like the gasps and people realizing that it's okay. no bad at all can come from discussing tabu subjects. it's where it comes from and how it's discussed. and i think that i've always done it. things like in the office, it was clear because it was a character. when david went over, the only black guy went, i love sidney pothier, people knew he was uncomfortable. when he was talking about the disabled woman in the wheelchair saying there should be tests, they know we're laughing at his attitude. but when it's under your own name, they get confused. does he mean that? clever people know there's irony. they know where the satire is. you can't legislate against stupidity. the more you dumb it down, you lose the satire. so i don't apologize for people that don't get it.
many people are offended because you exist, particularly you. >> for a very long time, you would have never imagined being in hollywood and now you are a superstar. what is the reality of hollywood excess? >> well, i don't know about that. i'm in my pajamas by 6:00 after i've worked out. i like glass of wine. but i don't really mix in those circles. the people i know in hollywood are usually are writers and directors and producers. i'm not -- i came to this business when i was nearly 40. i'm 50 now. >> is that the trick? is it to not be famous too early? >> i think so, and that wasn't intentional.
i didn't hold back saying hold it, i'm going to be famous when i was 38. i was never trying to be famous and i feared it. >> is it a lot easier to be older and famous? >> i think so. i think it was oprah who said if you don't know who you are by the time you become famous, it will define you. and i think these things don't -- i love the work. you know, i -- everyone knows that we get paid very well. nice reviews are good. ry wards are great. but it's the work. i can't believe i get up in the morning and have an idea and it will get made. >> what i can't believe is the way you look, because we all fell in love back in britain with fat, chubby ricky. >> i wasn't fat. >> you were pretty fat and you drank a lot of beer. >> you didn't tell me that then.
you should have said then, i would have worked out faster. i had to find out for myself. >> you were the standard bearer for the fish and chip eating, beer swirling bigger guy. >> i still do that. >> how much weight have you lost? >> not much at all. i think about 25 pounds. >> that's quite a lot. >> i've dope it by working out. i still eat and drink too much. but the next day i punish myself in the gym. i work out like rocky. and then i feel great. >> even your teeth look gleamy. anything done to them? >> those things in the luxury lounge once.
didn't have clean teeth. you're rewriting history here. i had a few pounds. >> what made you go on this vanity kick? >> it was a health kick. it was christmas, i was 48, a couple christmases ago, and i had 11 sausages and i sat there feeling ill. the number of times i said, jane, i'm having a heart attack. and i thought, you know what? life is good. and i don't want to blow it. i don't want to go hold on, just -- >> by the way, it wasn't just me. this dashing feature of "men's health" magazine, this emaculate kickboxing, it says how ricky gervais totally lost it. he went from chubby loser to bad-ass comedian. his next act, losing the gut and gaining respect.
>> that's good, isn't it? i'm glad i lived this long to get to that. >> where would you be without that? >> a fat, chubby loser who never cleans his teeth and stinks. ricky gervais died today at the age of 48 through sausages. death by sausage. that's a prison term. what? cut that. >> do you get more groupies now? >> i never got groupies. i've been with my girlfriend for 30 years. >> does she prefer you as a chubby loser? >> i think she loved me for both. when she met me, i wasn't a chubby loser. i was about ten stone. i used to do judo, karate every day. and then i hit 30 and got a job
and went to the bar afterwards. i just got heavier and heavier. i would say through my 30s and 40s until you go, when did that happen? you think, that will never happen to me. and it does. it's so easy. but it's easy to lose it, as well. i haven't given anything up, by i preferred to do. i couldn't diet or do that. i can't give up my cheese and wine, but i can, luckily, because i'm self-employed, and i've got my own gym. i've got no excuse. i hear you've got trainers now. >> yeah, yeah. he doesn't want me advertisering it. let's take a break and come back and talk about twitter. you love twitter as much as i do and i like your work. >> thank you.
the funniest show in the history of television. i love this show. >> i wouldn't call it the funniest show in the history. >> this show was hilarious. >> history of television? >> "seinfeld," lovely show. >> it was good. >> i love broad comedy. >> i will treasure this, ricky. i'm so excited. >> ricky gervais on the hbo show "curb your enthusiasm." >> i love my career. i've been very lucky with the things i've been asked to do, but that was an absolute joy. it made my realize why -- when you play a twisted version of yourself, you suddenly find out the worst you make yourself, people can, he can't be that bad. so you really go for it to make
it obvious. >> let's talk about twitter, because you came late to the game. you've become equally obsessive. you love twitter, don't you. >> i like it because it's the whole of humanity in your pocket. it's the best and worst of the world on twitter. there are some brilliant people out there, and there are some people that shouldn't be allowed sharp objects, okay? and i treasure them both. >> you sweeted this picture of yourself to say, on my way to piers morgan at cnn. i think i'll fit in well. what were you getting at? >> well, as a comedian, i thought i looked intellectual there, and cnn is obviously the home of intellectuals. so i was hoping i would have a go. but yeah -- >> you get very intense on twitter. you get into proper battles with people. >> yeah. but at home i'm smiling.
when someone is arguing with me that the earth is 5,000 years old, yes, i'm smiling. yeah. of course i'm smiling. the fundamentalist view of the creation of the earth is rather like an episode of "the flint stones." so i have to laugh. >> how does your atheism, which you're passionate about, how does that play with your american audience, given so many people in america are god-fearing people and probably take exception to it? >> but they shouldn't. why should they -- i don't believe in their god or any other god and i say to them, tell me the reasons why you don't believe in all the other gods and that's why i don't believe in yours. i've got nothing against people believing in god at all. in fact, if it did make you a kinder person, if you did good things in his name, great. but there's the rub. it's when i see some of these
religious fundamentalists saying that they've told their 5-year-old children if they turn out gay, they will burn in hell, that's child abuse. that has nothing to do with religion, that's child abuse. that's why i'm passionate -- >> what do you think of the republican nomination race, given some of the candidates clearly position themselves quite deliberately to say anti-gay marriage, all that thing based on their beliefs? >> just because they're offended by someone being gay doesn't mean they're right. it's a strange thing, being gay is a choice. being gay isn't a choice. you try it again. if it's a choice, have a go, see how much you like it. >> someone who has come to america and has become a classic american dream -- >> i came fat with terrible teeth. >> you were a chubby loser.
>> no, no, america is fantastic. it's the land of opportunity, and there's bits of both cultures that i love and hate and the wonderful thing about being in between england and america, they are both the land of freedom and criticize them all you want, but know that you're in a place that allows you to criticize it and that's lucky and that's great and that should be cherished. freedom of speech for me is one of the most important things that is discovered. i'll fight for the right of it. even though i don't believe in god and i don't believe -- unlike most religions, i treat them all the same. i think they're all wrong, not morally wrong, but i don't think there is a god. but if someone said we're banning religion, i would march to not have it banned.
i'm piers morgan and don't be fooled by my british accent because that's all i got. tonight, the controversy surrounding this year's super bowl halftime show. joining me now is artist m.i.a. >> that was my debut on "saturday night live." i thought that accept was shocking. >> i'm glad he said he was doing it. >> everyone said to me, well dope, you've been humiliated on america's number one tv comedy show. >> it's very flattering. because we're british, we might see the differences, but to america --at least certainly
making out things that aren't that bad. >> should we play what steve carell said about you? >> yes, please. >> you have no idea what he said. >> i can't believe he would say anything bad about me. >> could you do what ricky does? >> not in a million years. >> why? >> i think i would just get too skittish. >> but you could play a ricky gervais character. >> perhaps. but to go in front of people -- >> and offend them to their faces. >> it doesn't mean that i'm a better person, i certainly don't have that kind of guts. it's funny, he always makes fun of me, always. and he's also in a personal way very sweet to me. like before one of these awards shows he pulled me aside and said i got a few things i wanted to go after with you with, is
that okay? i'm like, of course. there is a gentler side to him people don't necessarily see. >> you're all heart, aren't you? >> he's such a lovely man, though. >> he thinks you're sweet, because you go up to him before an awardser is ceremony. >> if i had access to them, i would warn everyone. i've got nothing against people. >> do you like steve carell? >> he's great, he's fantastic and one of the loveliest people in hollywood. one of the hardest working guys. i don't know how he does it. >> he's got one of those heads that's just funny. >> because you know why? he's nearly handsome. it's like bob hope. if you look at him, he's chiselled, he's great, but he's got beady eyes.
>> that was a compliment, by the way. >> he's very handsome. he's not imposing. he's not bland. why are we going on about how good looking steve carell is? what am i, chopped liver? >> let's talk about love. >> go on. >> how many times have you been properly in love in your life? >> with romantic love? >> i'm assuming women. >> yes. i meant as opposed to family and kittens. >> yes. proper romantic love. >> once. >> and you've been with the same woman 30 years? >> yes. >> she's a lovely, smart, attractive, long suffering woman. why haven't you married her yet? >> well, we are really. we are. >> and yet you're not. >> well, we share everything. >> do you think you ever will? >> never say never. there's no reason we're not
getting married other than there's no point at the moment. i'm not digging my heels in saying we can't get married. there's no point. we don't want our families to meet. that's the thing. >> how d you show your romantic side? >> i don't know. should it be -- is there a definition? i think i am very romantic. we've been together for 30 years. we're soul mates. no one knows the as much about me. no one loves me as much and that's mutual. i don't think you can get more romantic than that. i think buying someone a card once a year is irrelevant. that's not romance. that's a tick on a calendar. it's nothing. we like each other's company. we don't like anyone better.
>> you've had this amazing career path, amazing in many ways. if i had the power to relive for you one moment, this is not personal, it would be professional, a moment in your life, what would it be? >> there's loads of things whizzing through my head but they're all from childhood. >> like what? >> i remember one where my brothers and sisters are a lot old enthan me. i was 12 and i was eating the corn flakes and i said mom, why are they so much older than me? and she went, because you're a mistake. so little things like that. >> little magical moments. >> it's so sweet. i remember when i went to do -- i went to -- i was good in school.
sciences and i went to college to do biology and after a couple weeks i changed to philosophy. and i came back that christmas. my mom had got me a book on biology and i said i'm doing philosophy now. she said, what good is that? i said it doesn't matter because i'm going to be a pop star. she said, pop star is another word for junkie, right? >> ricky, it's been a pleasure,s a always. you ply the flag brilliantly and it's a great joy to watch you in action. >> thank you. cheers, man. >> ricky gervais. there's only one ricky gervais. thank god. >> and i'm an atheist.
on you here, because i think we're all agreed your a comic institution, as "the new york times" said. tell me about that. >> i should be in an institution, i don't know that i am an institution. >> you were put how many times on johnny carson? >> about 140 times. >> that has to be a record, isn't it? >> bob hope was the most, and i was the second most. he could call me last minute. people used to drop out of ""the tonight show."" i found it amazing that somebody had something more important to do than the tonight show. i was there all the time and the other go-to person was bob newhart. he could come in the last minute and talk to johnny and it would be fine. so one day i said to bob, i'm so flattered we got to do this so much. johnny said he loved it because we bombed all the time.
and he enjoyed it. >> making him look good. why i invited both of you obviously today. >> hey, i'm done. >> you've collaborated on this new documentary series about comedians. why did you do it? what was the idea? >> well, charlie had this idea to kind of trace comedy in terms of generations and how it cross pollinates and sort of looked to people's inspirations. but it was too big an idea for a movie. so we very rapidly realized that this had to be a series. >> we actually shot a lot of it as a movie. >> and you've got incredible names. it's like a roll call of superstar comedians. is this like a definitive history of comedy? how are you billing it? >> i don't know if it's a definitive history of comedy, but it is --
>> what makes people laugh. >> it's unique in the way in which the comedians talk about what they do. it's just something about it is totally unique. there is no audience. there is no pressure. they're not on, but they're funny. >> let's take a little watch. >> i have 28 untaped different stories -- >> that happened between you and him. >> that never happened. >> i remember my mom, she would try to make me feel good about myself but she would do schticks. he's a large boy, he's all heart. but when he came out of me -- >> amazing. >> it's a brilliant lineup. and immediately i'm laughing. so this is obviously going to be a huge success. but what is the definition of comedy, is there one?
>> it's so subjective. what's funny to one person is not at all to somebody else. >> are you a funny person by nature? >> as is evidenced by this interview, no, clearly not. i don't light up a room. i was never a standup, so i'm not proficient at that at all. but i enjoy comedy. i enjoy laughing. >> i want to play you something to embarrass you now. i interviewed lisa kudrow and put a question to her. i think, i hope this will embarrass you. this is her answer. >> name one person who you think everybody finds funny. >> steve carell. >> that's true. >> okay. >> i've never heard anyone who doesn't find steve carell funny. >> yeah. >> it's true. >> okay. >> i challenged her thinking there wasn't an answer. she came up with two, tina fey.
>> tina fey? not so good. that's really, really kind. again, it's matter of personal taste. our own influences growing up, i had people from like peter sellers to steve martin to jack lemmon. it was all over the map. >> you were going to be a lawyer or all sorts of career paths lined up. what was the moment when the lights came on and you said no, i'm going to be a comedian? to me it's always seemed this horrible, soulless profession making people laugh. >> when i started getting paid to do it. i thought if i can make a living as an actor, that was my goal. but the fact that i just, over
time realized that i was making more money being a comedic actor than a dramatic actor. >> towel a pressure to always be on? when you go out and people meet you -- when they meet me, they say what was steve carell like? when they meet you, there must be this horrible pressure for you to be constantly hilarious. >> i set the bar so low. i see comedians going on talk shows and swinging for the fences in terms of their bits and early on i decided i'm going to be congenial but not do anymore than that. >> let's take a break. when we come back, i want to talk about the presidential race. i imagine from a comedic point of view, instantly you're laughing.
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the year for me. let's talk about the comedic value of the presidential race and the republican race in particular. this is fantastically funny moments in this. do you thank god every day that these things happen? >> yes. this is a gift from god to comedians. the likes of which we have never seen. it's a ship of fools that is -- it's just unbelievable. i used to have a theory that i took through almost all the presidencies. and it was that you're either -- it's like the three stooges. you're either a mo, who is in charge, or a larry, who wants to be a mo, or you're curly who is nuts and totally just off the page. this is all curlies. >> it's a little like that,
suspect snit >> there is no mo and larry here. >> i was just thinking of your analogy and i was thinking ron paul is sort of a shemp. >> no question. >> that's true. >> physically at least. >> when we were on the daily show, it was the same way. we were so thankful when anything that we perceived of as ridiculous would happen. >> when you watch the news, you must be itching for something to happen where you start laughing your head off. >> there were researchers, that's all they would do is watch for those little tidbits and they would cut them and throw them in there and, you know, the writers were fantastic. >> when you watch these debates, i think the philosophy you get from them is character is overrated. they don't care about character
in any way, shape or form. so it's gone. and i think it's been overrated through the years. so the republicans are in the sweet spot of having no character. >> character only matters when someone else is lacking in character. >> yes. it will hide your own lack of character. >> exactly. >> if i could trap you both on a desert island separately, and you could have one comedian with you to make you laugh for the rest of your days, who would you take? >> i would take allen. >> why? >> one to one, he makes me laugh more than anyone. he is so dry and so acerbic. i love being around the man. >> who would you take?
>> probably groucho. i might take marty short. known stop, funny, all the time. but groucho was so fun. >> if you're honest, did you prefer life before when you were more anonymous or have you actually embraced the whole fame thing with great enthusiasm? >> it's much, much better to be rich and famous. i mean, what do you say? but my life hasn't changed that much. i certainly have more money than i did, but my home life, my family life, all of that has really stayed essentially the same. >> are you resolutely normal? that's my sense of you. you still go to the mall and the movie theaters. you do your job, go home, you're batting way above with your wife. everyone is in agreement about this.
>> i don't dispute that in any way. but it's interesting, because i think had bsh because this all did happen later in life for me, and i think i had my ducks in a row at that point. i figured things out for the most part in terms of my goals and wants and dreams and what was giving me happiness ultimately. so i think if it had happened early in life, i don't know if i would have been the same story. i like to think it might have been, but you never know. >> let's take another break. let's come back and talk about "the office." because i know ricky gervais very well. i want to know what you feel about him, him leaving the show. sorry. sore knee. blast of cold feels nice. why don't you use bengay zero degrees?
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you will won't drool over pizza like an animal anymore. >> but -- >> you will find love. >> i'm pretty much okay with who i am now. >> don't be. never settle for who you are. >> classic steve carell from his "office" farewell. "the office" began with ricky gervais in britain. the thing about watching your version, he was more empathetic and i heard you say the reason is you wanted to create somebody
that could run as it did for seven series rather than this 12-program thing that ricky came up with. >> he knew that the run would be limited and he could play this guy that was just insufferable and a terrible person. >> with no redeeming features. >> not that we could see. i did feel -- television people are -- i know it sounds like a cliche, but they are inviting them into your homes every week. they are inviting these characters into their living rooms, so they don't want complete jerks in their living rooms. so in order to make it a little more palatable, it had to be a little more human. >> has it been a wrench leaving? it's weird when you lose the star of the show. >> it was strange. i miss my relationships there. i just saw everybody at the
screen actor guild awards for the first time in a while and it was great. >> do you miss the character? >> no. i felt like it was the right time for me to leave the character. >> what do you think of the whole ricky gervais golden globes, just coming out and offending hollywood schtick, could you do what ricky does? >> not in a million years. >> why? >> i would get too skittish. >> you could play a ricky gervais character. >> perhaps. but to go in front of people -- i don't think i necessarily -- it doesn't mean i'm a better person. but i certainly don't have that kind of guts. he always makes fun of me, always. he's also, in a personal way, very sweet to me. before one of these shows he pulled me aside and said i've got a few things i wanted to go after you with, is that okay? of course. so there is a gentler side that
people don't necessarily see. >> he warns you before he annihilates you. >> for me, yeah. >> you've got seven movies on the go, is that right? >> and i'm writing a symphony and i have a cooking show coming. >> did you ever imagine here you would be in hollywood in your smart power suit in the middle of a seven-movie extravaganza, learning you potentially a billion dollars. >> billion dollars. within the year, i'll be a billionaire. >> you must pinch yourself a bit. >> i'm always pinching myself. i'm going to grow another arm so i can constantly pinch myself. >> most comedians are tormented by terrible things that have happened to them. that's the motivation where they get affirmation. but there's a great quote that said the most wounded thing about you is you're not wounded. i love that line. do you concur with that?
do you feel like you've managed to avoid the normal comedic hell? >> i don't think that is necessarily -- i don't think it's necessarily true that you have to be a wounded soul in order to become a comedian. >> for standup comedy, if you had a great childhood and a happy marriage and enough money, you're going to make a lousy standup. >> it's true. absolutely true. you need to have had cigarettes burned on you for years to make an audience laugh. that's the sick society that we live in. >> what does it say about us? >> most people will laugh at other people's misfortunes. that seems to be the bedrock of real comedy. >> i read a woody alan quote in the paper. if it bends, it's comedy. if it breaks, it's not. i thought that was an interesting way to put it, because it's true. if it's painful but it's within the realm of being okay, it can
be funny. >> tell me more about inside comedy, because i love the premise of the show. >> he talks about the oscars and about opening for sammy davis jr. brad garrett talks about a hilarious story about opening for sinatra when sinatra is in his 80s and brad garrett is like 21, 22. and marty short, he was jerry lewis for the whole half hour. >> did you enjoy making this? >> i think david is the best interviewer, because he puts people at ease. >> rewind there. >> for comedy. >> only because you have all these people who do tend to be on a lot. but he puts them in a comfort zone and allows them to note onlyfu